and Mike Lang, Dialog reporter
DOVER – Padua took the lead against Middletown in the teams’ DIAA Division I girls soccer final June 3 at Delaware State University with about 35 minutes remaining. The third-seeded Pandas held on for 27 of those minutes before the top-seeded Cavaliers finally got the equalizer. No one knew it then, but they were in for 28 more minutes of soccer, plus a round of penalty kicks before a champion would be crowned.
And when it was over, the Pandas left town with their 12th championship after a 3-3 (3-1 penalty kicks) decision. It was one of the tougher titles they have earned over the years.
The Pandas and Cavs were tied at 2 at the half, but Maddie Mosier untied the game in the 45th minute. A Padua defender sent a long pass up the right side, There, Haley Dougherty caught up to it and directed it to the middle of the field around the top of the 18-yard box. Mosier received the pass, had a second to set herself, and she tucked the ball into the far left side of the net. The Pandas had the lead, 3-2, and an energized section of supporters at Alumni Stadium.
Middletown, which came into the game undefeated, battled a tough Pandas defense that was content to just clear the ball time and again as the clock rolled on. Finally, in the 72nd, a ball was pushed down near the end line to the right of Pandas keeper Claire Campbell. Campbell came out of her net and slid to get the ball, but it was tipped out of her reach, and Rhiannon Bosco found the far corner of the net from a sharp angle.
Each team had some chances in regulation, but neither could score. The Cavaliers did knock one shot off the crossbar.
Padua upped the pressure in the two 10-minute extra sessions, with Madelyn Galbus coming closest to ending the game with a blast in the 82nd that forced Middletown keeper Ava Ripanti to make a diving stop. In the last seconds of the second overtime, a Pandas pass was chipped by Ripanti, but Coryn Archie was there to clear the box before anyone scored.
It was off to penalty kicks, which were needed to decide a DIAA girls soccer title match just once before, in 2013. After three for each team, it was tied, 1-1 Ripanti, after allowing a goal on the first shot she faced, made two diving stops. The Cavaliers’ first shot went over the net. Campbell went high to her right to stop their next offering.
The fourth Panda to step up was Galbus, who had two goals during regulation. She bombed a left-footed laser into the right side of the net that likely would not have been stopped in any case. Campbell came up big again, stopping another Middletown shot. Mosier stepped up, and with a goal, the championship would remain with the Pandas.
The junior sent her shot along the turf to the left side of the net. Ripanti guessed right, and Mosier turned around and headed for her teammates. They made a beeline for the front of the stands, where plenty of Padua schoolmates were waiting after the marathon effort.
“To be able to put in the clincher in the shootout was awesome,” Mosier said. “I was really glad to get the win for the seniors.”
Galbus recently returned to action after suffering a collarbone injury, and she has been a difference-maker for the Pandas. She got them on the board in the fifth minute, getting a rebound after a corner kick and sending a left-footer into the net.
After the Cavaliers scored twice in a four-minute span to take a 2-1 lead less than 10 minutes into the contest, Galbus got the equalizer for the Pandas in the 23rd. On that one, after a Padua throw-in, she scored on a rocket that sailed over Ripanti’s head.
“I wasn’t able to play the first Middletown game (a 2-1 Cavaliers win). I was just happy to be out there with my teammates and was happy I could help with the two goals,” she said.
The Pandas finished with a 10-6 shot advantage. Each team had four corner kicks. Campbell made three saves. Padua finished the season 13-4.
Ripanti made seven saves for Middletown, who wrapped up 2022 with a 17-1.
Photos by Jason Winchell and Nick Halliday.